One time or another, we have all seen cats roaming around our neighbourhoods. Here at West Hill Animal Clinic, we frequently get asked how people can help these stray and feral cats. Let’s start by explaining the difference between “Stray” and “Feral” cats. A “Stray” cat is a pet cat that has been lost or abandoned and a “Feral” cat is a domesticated cat that has returned to the wild, or is the descendant of such an animal.
Here are some ways to help a Stray cat:
1. Scan for a microchip. If the cat is friendly, you can bring it to your local vet clinic, animal services or humane society to scan for a microchip.
2. Put flyers up or advertise on social media. Take some pictures of the cat and put up flyers around the neighbourhood or post on your Facebook and ask your friends to share. Make sure to add the location of where the cat was found.
3. Report the found cat to your local animal services and/or humane society. Whenever we get a call that someone has lost their cat, we always suggest the owner reports their cat missing with their local animal services or humane society. If you report the cat found then these centers can re-connect them with their owners!
4. Foster the cat yourself. If you have the time, you could always foster the cat until you can find it a permanent home.
Here are some ways you can help a Feral cat:
1. First Rule: Hands off! Feral cats are wild and can be very dangerous! Do not try to pet them or coax them into your house.
2. Put out food and fresh water. You can help them out by feeding them and giving them water. It may even help you gain their trust.
3. Trap-Neuter-Return Program (TNR). TNR involves volunteers trapping feral cats, spaying or neutering them and then returning them to the place where they were originally trapped.
4. Build a shelter. Building a shelter for feral cats will keep them safe in extreme weather conditions. Here is a link that shows you step by step how to build a feral cat shelter: https://www.neighborhoodcats.org/how-to-tnr/colony-care/feral-cat-winter-shelter
If you have any questions or concerns regarding Stray or Feral cats in your neighbourhood you can contact Toronto Animal Services at 416-338-PAWS (7297).
by West Hill Vet CCR Kylie